Marketing your products and services is the lifeblood of a new business. While you can ultimately have all kinds of long term business strategies, without having a steady stream of new revenue your new business venture can close up in a short period of time.
In my opinion, if you look at the three big areas of business—including marketing, the actual product or service you are offering, and client service—marketing is the one driver that can help sustain a business even if the other two areas are slightly subpar. There are really two parts to the marketing plan. One section involves dealing with implementing strategies that will specifically drive new client acquisition. The other arena is building the brand of your new company.
Many new entrepreneurs substantially underestimate the time and money it will take do marketing in the first year of their business. From a time perspective, your networking functions, community involvement, and meeting face to face with new prospects about your product or service will chew up a significant amount of time in your week. In addition, you’ll have to be mindful about how you and the employees in your company keep a level of consistency about the core message of the company. Here are three mistakes not to make in your first year.
- No tracking system. I suppose you could throw up whatever you want against the wall and see if it sticks. This can work short term, but it is not an effective way to market long term. Anything you spend marketing dollars on needs to be tracked. Specifically, you are trying to figure out what each lead cost you from a given marketing campaign, what your lead conversion is on each lead source, and what your ultimate return on investment is by lead source. This will help you make more effective short and long term marketing decisions as you spend resources within your company.
- Go narrow versus wide. In some ways, the show on television called Deadliest Catch can teach you a bunch about marketing. Nobody really has the money to dump an unlimited amount of traps around the entire ocean floor. It would be way too costly to do this (and many marketers try to do it this way). You need to think about having 2 or 3 really good marketing traps, but based upon your best demographic and psychographic data, pick a part in the ocean where you think you can get your best return for dropping the traps.
- Not asking the question “Why?” One huge mistake marketers make in a new venture is to try something once and never again. An example is doing a direct mailer that produced no results, so you assume direct mail won’t work. Instead of having that attitude, ask yourself the following questions. What were the results from my campaign? What happened? WHY did this happen? What would I do differently in terms of changing the variable if this could be more effective the second time around? What should be my new strategy going forward? By creating a new hypothesis, it will get you closer and closer to the bulls-eye you want of more new clients. Without asking why, you will bounce from new marketing idea to new marketing idea without improving results.
This is part eight of a ten part series on entrepreneurship. Our company has had huge success in the area of marketing. Every aspect of your marketing plan starts from day one, from your business card to your voice mail message to your web site. Make sure that you spend enough time considering all of these aspects or your new business will be open and shut in less than a year.